Colleagues and friends of Lieutenant Colonel Leroy Bruwer are in shock after the leading rhino-poaching detective was gunned down in an apparent assassination.
Leroy (49), commander of the Hawks in Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit), was shot dead in his car on Tuesday morning while on his way to work.
The investigation is ongoing but according to a police statement, he was shot with a heavy-calibre weapon.
Pieter Smit, commander of the Mbombela police’s quick-response unit, says his heart broke when he arrived on the scene and saw his colleague and friend’s lifeless body.
“Hate, sadness and tears with mixed feelings,” Pieter, who was one of the first people to arrive on the scene, wrote on Facebook.
Leroy’s body had been unrecognisably mutilated by the AK-47 gunfire, Pieter continued his Facebook post. He says the only way he knew it was Leroy is because he called his friend’s number and saw the cellphone ringing in the car.
“It breaks the heart of a grown man. Leroy, you were an honest policeman and worthy officer. You didn’t deserve this.
“I salute you. Rest in peace, colleague and friend.”
Pieter didn’t want to speak to the media about the incident and referred YOU magazine to the police’s official communication channels.
Brigadier Hangwani Malaudzi, Hawks spokesman, says a specialised task team has been formed to investigate the murder. “We’re hoping for a breakthrough soon.”
He adds Leroy was a formidable detective and made many breakthroughs in the fight against rhino poaching.
“All the evidence points to Leroy having been the target. It looks like an assassination,” Malaudzi says.
Police are following up on all leads to find the suspects.